a man riding a horse


(Author: Ki. Rajanarayanan Translation: Radha Soundar & R.S. Saha )

(Original Novel : கோபல்ல கிராமம்)

“Please give me some time. I need to think it over.” Govindappa Nayakkar said. The two officers agreed and left.

    They began discussing what the officers had said. Akkayya did not join in. Instead, he examined the sword the white officer had brought. He cut the blade against iron surfaces and it shaved them as easily as wood. Akkayya showed the others the shavings. 

    News of the Company officers quickly spread throughout the village.

    Govindappa Nayakkar gathered all the important individuals of the village to discuss the Company’s offer.

    Many were too stunned to think and choose either way. Chicken Hair Chinayya was the first to speak his mind. His expression turned into a grimace like he had eaten something sour. “That man… He’s not charming at all. Had a face like an albino rat.”

    They all laughed. Loud Mouth Kottayya spoke, “The other man. Now he looked noble.”

    Everyone liked the dark-skinned officer.

    “Did you see the white man’s eyes?” Chellapillai asked. “How come it was like that?”

    For men that have always admired the beetle dark eyes of our women. Govindappa Nayakkar thought. Of course the white man’s eyes will look weird.

    They were aware of the Company and the territories it had accumulated to rule over. Govindappa thought to ask Mangathayaru’s opinion on the matter. The others agreed.

    After listening, Mangathayaru Ammal remained silent. Then, after clearing her throat, she asked, “The white man has been in our country for a long time. Have they harmed our women like the Muslim kings?”

    They all listened carefully and appreciated the simple truth in her question. Hadn’t they fled their Telugu land because of this? They had not heard of Company men kidnapping their women or raping them. The Company seemed worthy.

    “Mother Earth is a woman,” Mangathayaru Ammal said. “Anyone who respects women can be trusted with Mother Earth.”    They all agreed to this and sent their acceptance to the Company.

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